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On prejudice

“My brothers and sisters, do not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if someone comes into your assembly wearing a gold ring and fine clothing and a poor person enters in filthy clothes, do you pay attention to the finely dressed and say: “You sit here in a good place”. And to the poor person: “You stand over there.” or “Sit on the floor!” If so, have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?” [James 2:1-4 NET]

Faith leaves no room for prejudice. But we do. It’s not even intentional. We’re programmed, it seems, to observe, measure and make judgements on what we see. We’re easily impressed by people’s appearance, performance or accessories. And those with apparent deficiencies stand out as well.

There is long standing racial prejudice, a lack of diversity in the church and people’s general social circle. We associate with those with similar looks and values and are less inclined to step outside or comfort zone.

This is not the life of faith, James asserts. Making distinctions and setting yourself apart from and elevating above others is fertile ground for developing a judgemental attitude. And what exactly are the motives behind drawing these tight circles of who is in and who is out? Sometimes it’s about being right or wrong. Sometimes your narrow circle of truth leaves little room for others. Other times it’s about comfort. I don’t want to hear someone else’s story or enter their pain so I’ll keep to myself and stay behind my own judgemental walls. I may treat others differently based on whatever judgements I have formed, mostly from outward appearance. Not congruent with an active life of faith.

The life of faith makes room, lots of room for all sorts of people with all sorts of stories and appearances. Believers are not more valuable than the average Joe who may or may not care about God. All have value. All are worthy of love.

It’s easy to nod your head in agreement and harder to cultivate a heart and life with love and room for all. Jesus was drawn in particular to those outside the margins and they connected well with him. Clearly his attitude reflected acceptance, compassion and love.

I am pondering my own tendency to think, process and make judgments continuously and wondering what it will take to make this shift towards a non judgmental attitude. Non-dualistic thinking where you don’t place people in categories. Good or bad. In or out. Right or wrong. Cool or annoying. Seeker or rebel. Success or failure.

Finding acceptance for oneself precedes an accepting attitude. I want to be the kind of person who embraces all kinds of people without judgement. And I want a non-dualistic faith with room for all.

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2 Replies

  1. Vanessa

    Lots to think about here …
    Thanks for your words and thoughts – always inspirational.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks for reading! ❤

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